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Thread: Starting with DC

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    Default Starting with DC

    Good Morning everyone,

    I was lucky enough to get a Kato N-Scale set for Christmas. I am going to start with DC until I get my feet wet. My local hobby shop seems to think that DCC may be getting some competition within 5 years or so by new technology. I am pretty OCD about how things prototypical work and see myself going to DCC, my question is when? I know I need to focus on my layout first which I can surely do with DC, but at what point should I decide to get DCC without spending a lot of money on my initial DC, such as turnouts, signaling, etc.

    I see my layout having 4 turnouts to start (it will be a 5x4), and some minimal yard areas (3 tracks or so dedicated to yard activities, such as refueling).

    Thank you very much for your time from a newbie lol.

    Christian

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    If know you're going to go DCC, do it soon. Only because the longer you wait the more loco's you'll have to convert. Otherwise if you can control your locomotive acquisitions I suppose you could wait. But a starter DCC system is relatively affordable. Don't ask which kind you'll get lot's of opinions.... although if you have a club nearby that runs DCC you can at least take a look at some in operations, or go to a train show, not sure if your near Massachusetts, but there's a HUGE one coming up in a couple weeks.

    Also, you might want to wire the layout for DCC so that's out of the way, search terms "wiring for DCC" although if it's a small layout I don't think you'll need to go to any complexity. I have a full sized room layout and the wiring was simple, but a lot of feeders.

    the pros will be along soon

    and welcome aboard

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    Welcome to the forum Christian!

    I would agree with Charles. If DCC is what your ultimate goal then do it now if you can. As Charles mentioned above, there are many great DCC systems for small layouts at reasonable prices it's easy to get started. Any money you would spend on DC can go for your DCC system and won't be wasted.
    Rob

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    Do it before you get a bunch of locos that have to be converted? IMO look at the NCE Power Cab to get started.
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary

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    Welcome to the Site!

    don't do any wiring with both feet wet
    Yours,

    Gene

    Turtle Creek Industrial RR

    Link to my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epumph/

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    Quote Originally Posted by epumph View Post
    Welcome to the Site!

    don't do any wiring with both feet wet
    also don't do any wiring barefoot standing on a concrete basement floor (even if it is dry)

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    I think you can start your DCC at anytime. Sure there are some benefits from going DCC from the get-go, but I think there are also benefits from delaying its introduction. You may even run both DC and DCC on separate tracks (which is what I plan to do). I bought three DCC systems and am still running 100% DC!

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    I'm curious to hear more about this upcoming DCC competitor. Does your dealer know something we don't, or is he just making an assumption based on technological progress in general?



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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaker89 View Post
    Good Morning everyone,
    My local hobby shop seems to think that DCC may be getting some competition within 5 years or so by new technology.
    Right, just when I thought I had most of the expensive items already purchased the industry is going to pick my pocket one more time.

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    Welcome to the group. The biggest advantage of going with DCC right away is being able to run multiple trains without the complexity of blocks and DPDT switches to alternate between throttles. DCC also makes it easier to consist two locos, so you can operate more prototypically.

    What might come along to supplant DCC in the next five years? Although there is a bit of enthusiasm for direct radio control combined with on-board power (battery powered locos); the reality of this being an option for N scale is much less certain than for HO or O scale. The NMRA is working on new standards for total layout control, however from what I have seen, these will supplement DCC rather than replace it, and allow signaling and other electronic control items. I went with the very first Digitrax system when it was just released and am very glad I made the choice for DCC.

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    I can understand people that already have a large DC layout with many engines sticking to DC , but with a fresh start I would advise DCC, unless you are the person that would rather use a handsaw to cut down a tree instead of a chainsaw.
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    I don't know. I think that starting a small layout in DC is fine, but it would be wise to only buy DCC ready or decoder equipped loks. They will still run on DC, but will minimize the financial impact of converting to DCC when you get to that point.

    There will be much conflicting advice here. Take your time, digest it, and figure out what is right for you.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    A bit late to the party, but I'll weight in here.

    First of all, welcome to _THE_ best N-scale resource available. Once you're underway with the layout build, don't forget to post some pictures.

    As for the DC vs DCC question, I'll offer the same advice I've offered everyone ...... Don't even consider DC. DCC starter sets have come down in cost so much over the past decade that there really is no reason to run DC anymore. Operations are simpler once you grasp how DCC works, wiring literally can not get any simpler especially on a small layout like you're planning, and I would be shocked if anything replaced DCC in the near future. Supplement? Possibly. Work alongside DCC? Almost assuredly. But manufacturers are very deeply invested in current technology.

    As others have pointed out, you're going to get mixed opinions and feedback here on virtually every question you ask - but thats expected due to the large population here at NSN. The ultimate decision is yours, but you've started out right by asking questions and doing your homework. Don't hesitate to ask questions :-)
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    I'll go against the grain here, and say that you may be just fine starting with DC. I think I had the track down on my layout for about a year before I switched. The advantage to starting with DC is it's one less thing to learn (and sometimes troubleshoot) as you're getting started. Yes, DCC is worth it, but it is one more layer of stuff to learn and deal with. Likely "triggers" to switch to DCC:

    -You want to run more than one train independently (like a switcher in the yard, at the same time as a train on the mainline). You can do this with DC as well but it requires block wiring- if you're going to go DCC at some point anyway skip the block wiring and go to DCC.

    -You want to run multiple locomotives together that don't naturally go at the same speed on DC. Most of the time the same mechanisms from the same manufacturer will run together at the same speed (or close enough) on DC, but when you want to start running locomotives with different mechanisms together, look at DCC.

    -You want to add bells and whistles. Literally with sound decoders, or figuratively with signals and such.

    Wiring wise, it's usually very simple to switch from DC to DCC. If you haven't wired any DC blocks, it's probably going to literally be disconnecting your DC controller and connecting the DCC one in it's place.

    That's my two cents anyway. Everybody has their own opinion, you'll have to pick through them and decide.

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    I would suggest sticking to DC to start with. But wire the layout with DCC in mind. When I built my Chicagoland layout I built with blocks insulated on both rails. I never used two power packs. The blocks basically were used to park trains. I was happy running on DC for many years.

    Then I bought a DCC loco equipped with sound. It ran great on DC. Engine noise was great! Some simple sounds played randomly. I was looking into getting a DCC sound control that you add to a power pack when I found a great deal on a MRC Command 2000, the tricycle of DCC. I just swapped my power pack for the MRC C2K. Just the two wires. Added a few more decoders to locos. Everything ran fine. Since the C2K was sooooooooooooooooooooooo simple, it could only ring the bell on the Athearn's FP45. Eventually I found a Prodigy Advance2 really cheap. Just swapped PA2 for the C2K.

    But I also have layouts that still run on DC. Why still DC? A couple of reasons. First while new DCC are cheaper, they still don't sell working ones under $10. Second they are much too big to attach to a Micro Layout. Third, it is extremely difficult to install a DCC decoder in Bachmann streetcars. Though DCC will work with overhead power.

    So while going DCC from the beginning can be scary, there is a way to ease into it from DC. Now, while many other companies offer DCC controls with the possibility of running one DC loco. MRC offers controllers that run either DC or DCC. Some of the Tech 6 series have a switch that picks which type of power...
    http://www.modelrectifier.com/traincontrols-s/107.htm

    Another option for small layouts is the MRC Loco Genie system. This wireless system costs about the same as some decoders but includes a dedicated controller. The used installed boards are also DCC compatible. So the locos can be used a couple of different ways. They make sound and silent versions...
    http://www.modelrectifier.com/geniesystem-s/123.htm
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    I vote for starting with DCC if you haven't already invested in DC. The complications go away if you get a power cab and a loco that already has DCC installed.

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    As a fairly new 'hobbyist' I too initially put money into a DC controller and a couple of 'cheap' locos. I wish I had most of dollars back now. Yes, they were helpful when I built a loop of track and could run my loco. I have since moved to a starter DCC system - a Digitrax Zephyr.

    One of the most amazing things I first noticed as how 'slow' you could run a DCC loco. On a small layout I think that may be of interest. I have attached the DC controller to the Zephr an it acts as a second throttle (actually you can add 2 DC). I've been playing with that over the past couple of weeks and it makes it easy to control two trains at the same time.

    If your interested in keeping costs to an absolute minimum and have the patience/skill/interest check out DCC++ (https://github.com/DccPlusPlus/BaseS...DCC--Plus-Plus).

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    If you have a Kato set you already have unitrack, a kato power pack and an excellent running kato engine. What always frustrated me with model trains, was the horrific attempts I made at trying to create ballast on my layout that didn't look like garbage or make everything run like garbage -this always took the fun out of the hobby and left me with garbage. If you can live with that bullet-proof kato track, you have something that will NOT annoy you and you have trains that run now. If you stick with kato engines, you'll have engines that seemingly always run. You have DC right now, so you have no hassles. All I read about dcc is people having their motherboards fry, or how they can't get the things installed, or the system running a bad code or how this system turned out to be crap -do you want these hassles? I don't. DC engines cost less and you can concentrate on running trains and building whatever you're going to run the trains on. And yes tech is constantly changing, dc engines I bought 15 years ago still run fine, what mods with the dcc engine require to run fine in 15 years? We have limited hours to spend on our trains, do you want to spend that time fiddling with decoders and motherboards and codes or do you want to enjoy your trains?

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    Still DC . . .

    As I said, I'm still running DC; however, I'm still in the process of building my layout so everything is only temporarily laid. I'm using 100% Kato Unitrack and although I plan to ballast it, nothing is glued down since I have some major redesigning coming up.


    Dynamis Ultima connected via USB to Dell 24" Core i5 touchscreen PC running Dynamis RailController software.

    In addition to a pile of DC-controllers (x7 MRC Tech IIs, x1 Kato, x1 Tomix), I also have three DCC systems: I have one Dynamis Ultima hooked up to a 24" touchscreen PC (above) set up in my office as a programming/testing track. The other two are still in their boxes, along with my 5A booster. One thing it true: The slow-speed performance under DCC control is mesmerizing. That said, I still enjoy the slow-speed running on my main layout under DC-control.


    MRC Tech II 3000GS DC-controller

    Here's some of the reasons I'm still running DC:

    • I bought five NOS MRC Tech II 3000GS controllers for only about $25 each—they look brand new and work great!
    • I love the 300°-rotation of the large MRC Tech II throttle-knobs.
    • I use custom-rated, loco-specific transformers to supply power to my MRC controllers to maximize throttle-range.
    • Multi-loco lash-ups run pretty good if I stay within the same motor families.
    • I have an analog-only Kato Soundbox through a 3.1 surround-system that sounds incredible (there is no DCC version).
    • But, the main reason I'm not running DCC yet, is that I still only have a single feeder track wired to the layout.

    Yup, the main reason I'm still DC is laziness. I haven't run the feeders every few feet throughout the layout, which DCC requires. Again, I have only a single feeder track to an entire 'L'-shaped double-track loop which measures 12' across, and 13' down, and everything runs great!

    As for my locos, I have four locos with factory-installed DCC decoders. I've installed two decoders in two of my DCC-ready locos . . . I have about 40 more locos to go (of which, about a dozen, are identical Fox Valley Models' GP60s which are super-easy installs).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    • But, the main reason I'm not running DCC yet, is that I still only have a single feeder track wired to the layout.

    Yup, the main reason I'm still DC is laziness. I haven't run the feeders every few feet throughout the layout, which DCC requires. Again, I have only a single feeder track to an entire 'L'-shaped double-track loop which measures 12' across, and 13' down, and everything runs great!
    DCC requiring multiple feeders to function is news to me. As far as I know that's just standard practice on anything permanent that's larger than a train set loop, regardless of whether you're using DC or DCC. DC still suffers from the same potential power drop over distance/rail joints as DCC, but if you can trains run at full power all the way around your loop on DC, I can't think of a reason they wouldn't run the same with DCC.



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